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Antoinette Sandbach MP opens 7th child bereavement conference

Caron Heyes
07/02/2017
In a stark keynote speech today to open the 7th Annual Neonatal Palliative Care and End of Life Care Conference, Antoinette Sandbach, the respected Conservative MP for Eddisbury, Cheshire revealed that when her baby son died she received no bereavement support from the hospital that had treated him and that without help from the Third Sector, she doubts she would still be here.

Ms Sandbach said through her tears that losing her five-day-old son Sam to SIDS in 2009 had left her "broken" and it was only the counselling support she received from bereavement charities that gradually gave her the strength to get up in the morning. Two years later, she was elected a member of the North Wales regional Assembly where she held the post of Shadow Rural Affairs Minister. In 2015, she became MP for Eddisbury.

Her story was echoed by other speakers, including Fieldfisher's Caron Heyes who discussed a family she had advised who also received no help through the NHS and were left torn apart by the loss of a young child. 

Caron said bereavement support made the difference for most of her clients between finding a way through their loss and remembering their child, with a measure of joy, or carrying it as an unbearable burden for the rest of their lives.  

In her speech, Ms Sandbach said that although she was treated with kindness following her son's death, the professional care she received was haphazard.

This lack of support encouraged her to set up the All Parliamentary group on baby loss to lobby for better care for parents who have a lost a baby – "and also grandparents and siblings".  Part of the work of the APPG has been to fund bereavement care pathways in hospitals and to encourage better parental rights, such as paid parental leave following the death of a baby.

Another main focus of the APPG's work is still to reduce the stigma around baby death. She said:

The APPG will also focus this year on mental health care for parents.

Ms Sandbach added that hundreds of thousands of people suffer the death of a baby each year but the tragedy is rarely discussed in the public domain.

About Child Bereavement UK

Child Bereavement UK provide confidential support, information and guidance to families and professionals throughout the UK. Their professionally trained bereavement support workers are available to take calls 9am – 5pm Monday-Friday.

Their support team can also be contacted by phone 0800 02 888 40 and email: support@childbereavementuk.org

Download a copy of the Bereavement Support leaflet here.

About the 7th child bereavement conference

The conference was organised by Child Bereavement UK and hosted by Fieldfisher. Other charities present include:

Caron Heyes, who coordinated the event, said Fieldfisher was proud to support Child Bereavement UK and all the charities involved in the event.

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